Crashing the Israel love in

April 25, 2015


The battle for justice in Israel/Palestine according to the brave israeli journalist Gideon Levy will take place in the diaspora. He writes as many do in Israel, that the country is in a trance, hopelessly divided, unsure of itself and in the grip of weak leaders like Netanyahu. The simple truth is that history has caught up with the sin of Zionism, now seen as as a retrograde colonial settler movement which displaced an indigenous people.

The diaspora is frayed. many Jews, particularly the young, raised in historical tradition of human rights simply cannot abide what Israel is doing and has been doing to the Palestinians for decades. The great historian Ilan Pappé who basically was chased out of Israel has termed this “incremental genocide.’ Many North American Jews of course have no understanding of this, never unlike Gideon Levy, having visited the West Bank or Gaza. The latter you can’t get into anyway. Israel will not let you see the horrific devastation it has visited upon this population. In essence, most people, Jews or non-Jews do not know what they are talking about, never having seen up close the humiliating oppression which Palestinians live under.

So now what we have which is unique is young Jews breaking with their tribal elders for the simple reason that Israel can no longer in an internet age hide their truly barbaric behaviour. Enough internationals and church groups have been and come back to North America stunned at what they have encountered, a reality hidden from Jewish visitors who never ever go to the West Bank. Easily manipulated they are.
This brings us to a Yom Ha Atzmaut celebration interrupted in Baltimore. This is the celebration of Israel’s Independence (May 15,1948).the day is always celebrated on the 5th of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar.

You got to love these “Jews of conscience” like those in the American Jewish Voice for Peace (VP) who had the cojones to interrupt the Yom Ha’Atzmaut party held at a downtown bar. They simply denounced it as a celebration of ethnic cleansing.They then distributed educational flyers about the Nakba, the “catastrophe” which Israel refuses to acknowledge, the dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.

The members of Baltimore JVP object to aspects of these agendas, especially to what they call the “celebration of Israeli nationalism at the expense of Palestinian human rights,” according to a letter the group sent to the organizers.The letter, signed by over 30 local Jews, stressed both the “displacement and continuing abuse of Palestinians,” as well as the way these kind of events “misrepresent and alienate us [as Jews.]”

When members of JVP were denied a meeting with the organizers they decided to “crash the party,” which they consider a celebration of “the atrocities done in the name of Judaism,” according to Sam DiDonato, a JVP member who signed the letter and participated in the interruption. At 9:10  in a carefully planned chorus, the group clinked a glass to call attention to their message and surprised the crowd by chanting “stop celebrating ethnic cleansing!” numerous times as they confuted the space with hundreds of flyers.

The good news is that these Jews of conscience are growing and refusing to be cowed by their elders and in particular their rabbis who are complicit by their silence.

Israel is a state! Independent Jewish Voices

April 23, 2015


Sid Sniad sends this from B.C.

In recent years, Israel and its allies have become increasingly concerned about the growing international movement to expose and sanction Israel’s behaviour. Their chosen response appears to be one designed to intimidate and suppress this opposition through the threat or actual use of legal punishments. Nowhere has Israel’s call for help in this outrageous endeavor been more enthusiastically embraced than in the right-wing Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which is widely considered Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest ally.

In the face of growing intimidation from the Harper government, Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV) decided to write a statement that identifies the tangible threat to criminalize criticism of the state of Israel in Canada. We reached out to civil society organizations across the country, with the goal of finding broad public support in defense of our civil liberties, which are already under attack through the terrifying Bill C-51.

Here is the full text of the statement, entitled “Oppose the Canadian government’s threat to criminalize criticism of Israel”:

In 2009, the Canadian government gave major support to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA), a group of parliamentarians who accused those challenging Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians of being anti-Semitic. The goal of the CPCCA was to create a climate in which criticism of Israel could be criminalized in Canada. Fortunately, that initiative was unsuccessful, thanks to widespread opposition from members of the Canadian public.

In what appears to be another attempt to suppress criticism of Israel, the Canadian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel which makes the claim that “the selective targeting of Israel is the new face of anti-Semitism” and declares that Canada will oppose those who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Shortly after the MOU was signed, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced to the UN General Assembly that the Canadian government would exercise “zero tolerance” toward “all forms of discrimination including rhetoric towards Israel, and attempts to delegitimize Israel such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”

All this follows on the fact that in October 2014 the Canadian government passed changes to the criminal code in Bill C-13 which expanded the definition of identifiable groups to be protected against public incitement to hatred to include “nations”. This change to Canadian law parallels the situation in France, where alterations to the French penal code have led to the conviction of twenty French citizens who support the BDS movement, on charges of inciting racial hatred.

It is not yet clear how the Canadian government intends to implement a policy of “zero tolerance” to those who exercise their freedom of speech by advocating and participating in boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns to pressure Israel to respect the rights of Palestinians. What is clear, however, is that the Canadian government is determined to target people who expose and oppose Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians. Such efforts by the government can only put a chill on Canadian democracy and may lead to the criminalization of such dissent down the road.

We are unequivocal in our condemnation of all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. It must be stressed that it is not anti-Semitic to criticize the state of Israel. Those who equate such criticism with a hatred of Jewish people are simply attempting to silence Israel’s critics.

In the face of these actions on the part of the Canadian government, we must defend the right of people in a democracy to criticize any government’s behaviour and to participate in boycotts designed to alter that behaviour if they choose to do so.


We, the undersigned organizations, oppose attempts by the Canadian government to criminalize criticism of or opposition to the actions of any country.

The positive response to this IJV initiative has been inspiring. At last count, 81 organizations from across English-speaking Canada and Québec – including major trade unions, labour councils, civil liberties, anti-war, faith-based, student and other groups — have endorsed the statement.

The Harper government has yet to take punitive actions in pursuit of these outrageous assaults on our freedom of expression. But progressive forces in Canada clearly stand ready to mount a vigorous response if and when they do.

He’s a John Paul ll bishop

April 22, 2015

The Archdiocese of Kingston had a festival for youth  in October called Shine Like the Son a pun on sun referring to Jesus.

And Padre Roberto tells me that the “star’ was the auxiliary bishop of Ottawa, Christian Riesbeck

And the first thing out of his mouth was “I am a John Paul ll bishop’. MMM what’s up here? Not unusual according the Insider. Many of these bishops do not like Francis and his “mercy” talk, his insistence on consulting the laity and “getting the smell of the sheep on them.’ so they are now self-designating themselves as JP ll bishops. This is code for, “I do not like the direction the present pope is moving”.

Riesbeck methinks does not dig the new Pope Francis.

Not unusual these days. so many of these right wing bishops, Riesbeck belongs to a an ultra conservative order called Companions of the Cross, very Rome centred—unless it’s a Vatican ll pope like Francis.

So in front of all these kid he identifies himself as a “John Paul ll bishop.” How lame.
You have a festival named for the crucified kingdom bringer, the radical rabbi Jesus of Nazareth and this guy identifies himself as a “John Paul ll bishop.”

That’s how hard it is for Francis, dealing with guys like this.

Where is Bill Murray when we need him? The irish mick comedian from Chicago had a great stock line when confronted with absurd statements that Riesbeck made.

“I have to laugh.”

Zionism is the problem

April 18, 2015


Judaism is Torah, ethics, an exaltation of the spirit. If Judaism is truly Torah, then it cannot be reduced to the confines of any particular territory, for as scripture said of Torah, it’s measure is greater than the Earth.

Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamarat 1929

At one time the Jewish community had fierce proponents of justice in their pulpits. Then a strange thing happened.The date usually given is June 1967, the 6 Day War when Israel easily defeated the Egyptian army. Of course the Israeli government as it usually did  and continues to do  prepped the people and the docile public that this would be a fight to the finish, little Israel (always David, not Goliath) was fighting for its survival.It was never the case and was best explained by Mordecai Benton a Knessert member on April 14,1971 “The entire story of the extermination was invented in every detail and exaggerated a posterior to justify the annexation of new Arab territory.”
General Matti Peled who was the chief of Logistical Command during the war agreed: the thesis according to which Israel was fighting for her survival was nothing but a bluff which was born and bred after the war…. Israel was never in real danger and there was no evidence that Egypt had any intention of attacking Israel”

Well Jewish pride exploded all over the world.The bigger story however was the steady erosion of Judaism in favour of rabid Zionist national values.This was also the beginning of the so-called religious Zionism, a movement which arrived just in time as political Zionism was beginning to lose its lustre and its moral steam—because the world began to finally understand that the dark underbelly was the oppression of another people,the Palestinians whose lands were stolen and were living in misery in refugee camps.

Then voila—the miracle, a gift from heaven, a divine intervention! Against all odds the little David had defeated Goliath the mighty Arab forces. having taken most of the Palestinian home in 1948, Israel began the move to colonize the West Bank, steal the rest of the land, albeit slowly, dunam by dunam, mule by mule as the saying went. An incremental genocide was on its way Now the Zionist dream seemingly was under a religious canopy. The messianic redemption was on its way and it would be the indigenous people who would pay.

All this was blessed by the influential rabbis in particular the Kooks pere et fils. Avraham Yitzhak Kook (d 1935) saw secular zionism as paving the way for redemption.his son Zvi Yehuda Kook fleshed out his father’s unique religio-political Zionism which birthed the Gush Emunim, the infamous settlers who tell the world that God gave us this land.For the next thirty years it would be these fanatics which would control both Labour and Likud and help drag Israel into a pariah status and worse, co-opt Torah Judaism.It must be God’s will. the redemption of the land is finally begun. blessing oppression, depopulation and ignoring the united Nations,religious zionism began to cut the heart of Judaism.

it was a great Toronto rabbi Reuben Slonim who saw the terrible effect that the so-called miracle was having on Jewish ethics. For him he rise of the “tough Jew” had severely compromised Jewish ethics. By opting for power too many Jews were unable to see that the price paid—the displacement, then the cruel oppression and ghettoization of the Palestinian people–had wreaked havoc with the deepest values of Torah. The universal lessons of the Holocaust had not been internalized to include the suffering of others. “The Six Day War plunged Toronto’s Jews into an orgy of chauvinism from which they never recovered.”

Reuben Slonim paid a ferocious price for his principled defense of Judaism’s universal values. he lost his pulpit and became a pariah in the community.Before him Toronto had strong justice rabbis Maurice Eisendrath at Holy Blossom temple (1929 -1943) was thoroughly engaged in the issues of the time as was his successor Avraham Feinberg(1943-1961).The former took the Torah into the streets and marched with Dr.King) and the latter was a leader in anti-racism, nuclear disarmament and actually met with Ho Chi Minh, so disgusted was he as a rabbi emeritus in 1966 that he led marches up Yonge  Street against the war.

But now? Silence from the synagogue even after the last butchery in Gaza when over 500 children were murdered with seldom as peep. The war in Lebanon (2006) and the other Gaza turkey shoots against a defenseless people. More silence. And signs in front of shuls: time to stand up for Israel but none reading stand up for Torah.

Allan Brownfield writing in the American Council for Judaism”, Spring 1997 summed up this sad development in these words
The corruption of Judaism, as a religion of universal values, through its politicization by Zionism and by the replacement of dedication to Israel for dedication to God and the moral law, is what has alienated so many young Americans who, searching for spiritual meaning in life, have found little in the organized Jewish community.”
Having witnessed the war on Lebanon (2006) and three punishing assaults on the civilians of Gaza Brownfeld wrote in 2014,”What we are witnessing today, synagogues flying Israeli flags, programs urging American Jews to immigrate to Israel, their real homeland, is a form of idolatry, making the sovereign state of Israel the object of worship, rather than God.
These are challenging times for the synagogue when so many liberal rabbis consider themselves muzzled by congregants more Zionist than Jewish. However, the very same dynamic exists in Catholic churches today. Colonized by decades of turbocapitalism, silenced by consumer comforts and led by an episcopate more in love with charity than justice we too fit the description of Irish priest Diarmuid Omurchu:
We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure
Jesus of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation. Our respectability has taken a terrible toll on the authentic calling of Christian life.

We have lost sight of the deeper vision and lost heart
for the passion and enthusiasm of God’s New Reign.
The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion.

Israel: the brainwashed country Gideon Levy in Washington

April 14, 2015


On April 10 renowned Israeli journalist Gideon Levy spoke at the National Press Club in Washington and stunned the crowd into silence with his shocking common sense which few Americans would dare replicate.At first the Haaretz columnist thought that the invitation was from the powerful lobby group AIPAC. Levy’s response was:

I said, That’s the chance of my life. I am going to come there to Washington and tell them, with friends like you, Israel does not need enemies.

Levy reiterated the remarks he made in Toronto on March 24 that hope was in the diaspora the USA in particular. Israel is a lost cause. We don’t want to know and most of all do not care.

“Change will have to come here. In Israel– is a lost case, forget about it. Israeli society has surrounded itself with shields, with walls, not just physical walls but also mental walls.”

There are 3 principles which Israel lives by:

1. We deeply believe we are the chosen people.Then we have the right to do what we want.”

2. Never in history has the occupier presented himself as the victim. And not only the victim– but the only victim around

3. Israelis have undertaken the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians.” And this allows Israelis to live with everything. Because the occupation does not involve questions of human rights.

“And if you scratch under the skin of almost every Israeli, you will find there, almost no one will treat the Palestinians as equal human beings like us.”

Israelis have undertaken the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians.” And this allows Israelis to live with everything. Because the occupation does not involve questions of human rights.

This set of three beliefs has allowed Israelis to live in peace with those ongoing crimes, for many years.

Levy went on to speak about his own experience. Unlike most Israelis and North American tribalists, he had never tasted the sour grapes of oppression until he travelled into the occupied territories. There he experienced, and still does “a criminal project just half an hour away from Israeli homes.”

We have to face reality, and reality is that there is no chance for a change from within the Israeli society. No way…  The only hope is for an international intervention, and the only hope is from this place, from Washington, from the United States, from the EU. Only from there.

Because Israeli society is today by far too brainwashed. Life in Israel is by far too good. Israel is, let’s face, it a society which lives in denial, totally disconnected from reality. Would it be a private person, I would recommend either medication or hospitalization. Because people who lose connection to reality might be very dangerous either to themselves or to society. And the Israeli society lost connection with reality, it lost connection with the reality in its backyard, it totally lost connection with the international environment.

Really to believe that 5 million Jews know better than 6 billion people of the world? Really believe that 5 million Jews will be able to continue to live on their sword forever? Is the one example in history in which any country lived on its sword forever? Empires! Really believing that in the 21st century it is acceptable to ignore the international law in such a way, to ignore the international institutions and to rely only on the United States — and Micronesia.

Levy touched on a sore spot: what has happened to Jewish values?

I must be frank with you, I don’t know what are Jewish values. I know what are universal values. There are very clear universal values. And very very clear international law. International law is very important– except for Israel. Israel is a special case.

One answer might be: Zionism has trumped Judaism. The sad reality of  a secular colonial, nationalistic movement which  trampled the human rights of the indigenous population replaced the deep humanist values of prophetic Judaism.

Amos Gvirtz, Defender of the Bedouin

April 12, 2015


Amos Gvirtz came to Toronto on April 7 to speak on behalf of the rights of the indigenous Bedouin Israelis in the Negev. “Being Bedouin in a Jewish state: dispossessing Palestinian- Israeli citizens inside Israel”

Growing up on a kibbutz north of Tel Aviv Gvirtz always heard the lame excuse of many Germans that they did not know what was transpiring in Nazi Germany. He has made it his mission to tell his fellow Israelis and indeed the world, what is happening to the most vulnerable citizens of Israel, the Bedouin, a people who are seeing their land stolen from under them.

These citizens have been in the Negev since Abraham was a baby (about 4,000 years) and they are now called “trespassers on State land” .Their travail is hidden from North Americans who are knee jerk supporters of Israel come what may but their treatment reflects just how low Zionism has sunk and why many North American Jews are getting off this failed movement whose policy is well expressed by historian Ilan Pappé as “incremental genocide.”

Amos is one of those great israeli Jews of Conscience who simply can not live with the largely hidden war on the real indigenous people of Palestine, the Bedouins.He has become one of their ardent defenders.


IDF destroying Al Araqib

We met him in Al Araqib in November, a Bedouin village which had been destroyed 77 times in four years. Amos became our translator for his good friend Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi. before the sheikh addressed us as per usual among Palestinians, no matter how poor they are, hospitality comes first. And so it was on this day. The Sheikh barely needed a translator as he laid out the outrageous treatment of these Israeli citizens.

Approximately every two or three weeks, soldiers arrive with bulldozers and raze their living quarters.  After each demolition, the families are forced to sleep in cars or on the ground until they can rebuild their makeshift dwellings with tarps. On October 14, 2014, the soldiers took away the women and children, confiscated the cars and arrested the Sheikh. On top of the destruction, the government is demanding 2,000,000 shekels to cover the costs of destruction. Now  that’s chutzpah.The Sheikh has a number of highly regarded lawyers working on behalf of the village and has had to sell off all of their animals to raise funds. He said that these demolitions are more dangerous than the occupation because they are destroying their culture and their history.

According to a report published by Dukium, the Negev Coexistence for Civil Equality “it is part of the government’s broader policy designed to compel Bedouin citizens to abdicate ownership over their ancestral lands and move to recently recognized villages or townships. Though over 70,000 people reside in unrecognized villages in Israel, the state denies their existence.” As further explained in the report, the villages are not indicated on governmental maps or road signs, and are deprived of public services – electricity, water, health, education and transportation infrastructure and services. Israel destroys about 1,000 of their homes each year to force them into two towns with the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in Israel.

And get this earlier this month on Wednesday April 8 policemen and Israeli soldiers escorted employees of the Israeli Civil Administration (the governing body of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank) to Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village located a few kilometers from occupied East Jerusalem. There, they dismantled 11 solar panels, most of which had just been donated and installed by the Palestinian NGO Future for Palestine to give this village a few hours of electricity a day.

This staggers the imagination that the powerful state who always does what it wants to the weak and oppressed will go to these lengths to hound a poor community struggling to cope with the loss of grazing land for flocks. This is a shocking denial of the duties of the Occupying Power spelled out primarily in the 1907 Hague Regulations (arts 42-56) and the Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV, art. 27-34 and 47-78).

A regular power source means they can have a fridge in which to store dairy products that can then be sold at market. Electricity also means they can run a laptop and have access to lawyers.

This is what you are dealing with in “the only democracy in the Middle East!

According to numerous analysts, local NGOs and UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Israel is looking to expel the last Palestinian residents of Khan al-Ahmar in order to connect the Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem.

Israel destroys about 1,000 of their homes each year to force them into two towns with the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in Israel.

It is these poor communities that Amos Gvirtz defends.

Weekly Amos connects with  an international audience with his “Don’t Say We Did Not Know” information about unpublicized events affecting the Palestinian and Bedouin communities. Gvirtz’ new book (only in Hebrew now) of the same title examines the problems resulting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Below are samples of his regular truth flares.
On Tuesday, February 17, 2015, Israeli army forces entered an area belonging to a Palestinian of the village of Tyassir near Tubas (northern West Bank) and uprooted 9 dunams of olive trees, claiming they had been planted in a nature reserve.
————— ————-
On Thursday, February 19, 2015, government agents escorted by police had a demolition day in Bedouin localities in the Negev. They destroyed a structure in Rahat and proceeded to demolish Al Arakib yet again.

Don’t say we didn’t know #444
On Thursday, 26th February, 2015, residents of the Palestinian village ‘Izbet Tabib (east of Qalqilia) together with some of their Israeli supporters demonstrated near the access road to their village, near Highway No. 55. They did not block the road. Suddenly soldiers arrived and without any warning started shooting tear gas grenades at the demonstrators.
—————– ——————–
On Sunday, 22nd February, 2015, government representatives escorted by police arrived at the Bedouin village Sa’wa, east of Hura, and demolished four homes.
On Thursday, 26th February, 2015, they arrived in the Bedouin village Tel ’Arad and demolished two structures.
On Wednesday, 18th March, 2015, representatives of the Civil Administration, with a military escort, came to lands belonging to Palestinians from Dahariyya, west of Yatta, and cut down five year old, or older, olive trees, claiming that it was state-owned land. The Palestinians claim ownership.
On Sunday, 15th March, 2015, Government representatives accompanied by the police went to the Bedouin village Sawawin, near Segev Shalom, to demolish a sheepfold. On Thursday, 19th March, 2015, Government representatives demolished a home in Bir Hadaj, near Kibbutz Revivim. That same day, the Israeli government demolished a home between Bir El-Hammam and Khirbet El-Wattan, near Nevatim. They also demolished a structure in Rahat.

Deir Yassin will Not Go Away

April 11, 2015


Deir Yassin will not go away. As FDR said about Pearl Harbour a day of infamy and a horrible blot on Zionism.April 9,1948 a small village of about 750 Arabs with no soldiers, almost opposite Yad Vashem,the holocaust museum. An irony for sure.

In November 2014 I visited Deir Yassin, now the Israeli village of Givat Shaul. A marvelous Israeli Arab named Umar Ighbariah a member of Zochrot led us through what remains of Deir Yassin.Z ochrot refuses to forget. See below. Ilan Pappé surely one of the great Jews of Conscience had to leave Israel because of his truth telling.His book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine is perhaps the greatest historical document of the Palestinian tragedy


How Israel was absolved of Deir Yassin and all other massacres
By Ilan Pappe
This week we commemorated the massacre of Deir Yassin.
On the anniversary’s eve, I went with a group of Palestinians, Israelis and visitors from abroad to a tour in the village organized by Zochrot, the Israeli group that continues relentlessly to remind Israelis of the crimes committed during the Nakba.

Last year such a visit ended with a violent attack by a local resident of Har Nof — the Jewish ultra-Orthodox neighborhood built on the village’s ruins — so two sulky policemen accompanied us to the site (mainly there to make sure we did not deviate from the path allocated to us). The very hot day probably deterred the usual suspects from a repeat of last year’s aggression.

Three buildings are still standing there: the school, now a yeshiva, and two houses. The rest is covered by ugly cubic buildings, forcing memory and imagination to work hard if you wish to reconstruct the beautiful village standing at the very top of the western slopes of the Jerusalem mountains.

It was one of the first targets of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that began weeks before the village was attacked.

On 1 April 1948, the Zionist forces that had been given the instruction to cleanse dozens of Palestinian villages from the western side of Jerusalem received a large bundle of orders.

Among them was a directive from the intelligence service of the Hagana depicting every village as an enemy base and anyone above the age of ten as an able fighting male. The villages and the men and children in it were thus considered legitimate military targets to be destroyed and killed.
In Deir Yassin, women and babies were also not spared. But the importance of the directives lies in the dehumanization of the Palestinians that was integrated into the orders dispatched to troops that in the next ten months or so would massacre thousands of Palestinians and expel almost a million of them (half of the country’s population), demolish their villages and destroy their towns.

This dehumanization also explains why the so-called non-aggression pact the villages signed with their Jewish neighbors and military command in Jerusalem was sinisterly brushed aside once the order to cleanse the region was given to the troops on the ground.

Jews are not different from any other people on this planet. Almost every group of people can be indoctrinated to dehumanize another group of people.
This is how normal Germans were recruited into the death machine of the Nazis, Africans into the genocide in Rwanda and farmers to the killing fields of Cambodia. Even people who claimed to be victims of such dehumanization, as were the Zionist troops of 1948, very keenly engaged in the business of killing babies, as well as old men, in Palestine.

This dehumanization appears now daily
in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

Journey of destruction
The world is divided roughly into three responses to the present-day dehumanization. The first is characterized by cynical manipulation of the tragedy by political and economic elites in the West, China and India. There you can find arms traders, financial mavericks and cold-blooded politicians calculating daily how this is going to empower them politically or financially.

The second approach is indifference exercised by the majority of people who could not care less one way or another.

The third approach is genuine human concern and solidarity shown by the conscientious sections of society who wish to do something and get involved.
For all these groups, it is important to stress the link between what happened this week 67 years ago in the village of Deir Yassin and the present day barbarism.

The massacre of Deir Yassin, by no means the worst or the last in the history of Palestine, symbolized what was so unique about the Palestinian plight. Immediately after it occurred, the people who initiated it (the Zionist leadership) blamed their extreme wing for doing it and apologized.

At the same time, they published as widely as possible the news in order to frighten those living at the next locations in their journey of expulsion and destruction. They were about to assault the cities of Palestine and they hoped that the massacre would cause people to flee. It did not work that well; they had to massacre and expel by force the people of the towns throughout the month of April 1948.

Absolving Israel
But the propaganda about the massacre bore success elsewhere. The new state, Israel, was absolved from this and similar massacres — in fact, it has been let off from all the crimes it committed in 1948 and ever since. The immunity granted in April 1948 remains today.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, a different kind of exceptionalism was exercised. Pro-American regimes, unless they went wild, could abuse human and civil rights, while those who were not on the right sight were condemned as rogue states.

Those which had other assets coveted by the US were punished more severely. But even those with an exceptional status in the eyes of Washington were not received as members in the community of civilized nations in the way Israel has been. The exceptionalism there is unique.

It is this exceptionalism that prevents good people in the West to participate in any significant way in the urgent conversation about human and civil rights in the rest of the Middle East.

Everyone should take part in this conversation about barbaric acts committed against the innocent. But everyone who commits such acts should also be targeted in this conversation.

The criminals who have attacked Gaza, the Yarmouk refugee camp, the Yazidi villages in the north of Iraq and the bombardiers of Aleppo and operators of drones in Pakistan should not be exonerated in any way; they should all be brought before the International Criminal Court, or similar tribunals.

Justice should be demanded for all their victims.

When this will happen we could come back to Deir Yassin, knowing that some sort of justice was served to people who have been victims of crimes not yet acknowledged, let alone punished.

Good Friday in the American empire

April 4, 2015


From Holy Thursday morning to Good Friday, some 25 friends gathered in
D.C. for the annual Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat sponsored
by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Jonah House communities. We
were especially blessed to have with us students from Loras College
from Iowa and members of the New Jerusalem Community from
Philadelphia. The theme of the retreat was: “Put Away the Sword.” Holy
Thursday was a day of reflection, sharing, action planning and
Liturgy. Good Friday was a day of public witness.

The retreat began with a communal Gospel sharing of Matthew 26: 36-56,
led by Ted Walker. After lunch, Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst,
peacemaker and founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for
Sanity, gave a powerful presentation about his journey from being in
the CIA for 27 years to becoming a Gospel peacemaker and truth-teller.
His talk, interspersed with song, prayer, stories, video footage, and
Irish wit and humor, included a powerful expose about how government
lies are consistently used to justify its horrific warmaking
ventures—from Vietnam to now. He addressed how the corporate
controlled media manipulates and distorts the news. He also spoke of
the government’s ruthless and vindictive attempts to stifle dissent
and persecute whistle-blowers, like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden,
whom he has personally met with. His insights and stories regarding
state criminality and whistle-blowing friends were truly illuminating!

In the evening, Bill Frankel-Streit from the Little Flower Catholic
Worker, led a Holy Thursday Liturgy which included spirit-filled
singing led by Loras students, a moving foot-washing ritual and
inspiring reflections on the Gospel and its meaning for us today.

On Good Friday, a nonviolent public witness was held at the Pentagon.
At 7:00 a.m. the community processed from Army-Navy Dr. to the police
designated protest zone with signs and small crosses with the names of
different victims in our society and world written on them, and
singing “Let Me Be An Instrument Of Your Peace.”  As hundreds of
Pentagon employees  streamed  into work and numerous police were on
hand, seven of our community remained on the Pentagon sidewalk (where
we are subject to arrest) and held an “adoration of the cross” before
a small cross with the inscription: “2015– Suffering Humanity.” We
prayed: “We Adore You O Christ and We Bless You, Because By Your Holy
Cross You Have Redeemed the World.”  Simultaneously, the rest of the
community proceeded into the designated “protest zone.”

A huge banner that said: “U.S. Empire Crucifies Humanity” was displayed on the
grassy slope overlooking the metro entrance. A retreatant, dressed in
a black robe, standing on a crate, with arms outstretched on a large
cross,  wore a sign: “Victim of Militarism.” Our leaflet was read and
a reflection about militarism and Jesus being nailed to the cross
today, written by Leonardo Boff, were read aloud.  In between the
readings there was silence and singing “Were You There When They
Crucified My Lord.”

After about ten minutes, those who were praying on the sidewalk were
arrested, taken to the Pentagon Police processing center, and released
after several hours.  They were charged with “failure to comply with a
lawful order” and have a court date for June 4, 2015.

At noon-time, as a light rain fell, retreatants held a “contemporary
crucifixion” on Pennsylvania Ave. directly in front of the White
House, as many tourists looked on. See below the reflections that were
read for each of the eleven crucified victims as they, wearing black
robes, took turns, standing on a crate, with arms outstretched on the
cross. After each victim came off the cross we sang: “Were you there
when they crucified my Lord.” Our leaflet was also read to begin the
witness, and a reading about how Jesus is being crucified today, by
Leonardo Boff, was offered to conclude it. The Loras students began
and ended the witness with singing “Let Me Be An Instrument of Peace.”
We ended our witness and retreat by sharing a sign of peace.

Let us pray for each other during this Holy Season, and for all those
in our world who are experiencing at this very moment the passion and
death of Jesus. And let us be transformed by the cross and
resurrection of Jesus as we seek to practice resurrection and be
living signs of hope for our world.

Good Friday continues

April 4, 2015


In 1979 we moved out of the narrow confines of individual churches where Jesus had become boxed in. We insisted that Good Friday continues in the streets of our city.THE JOURNEY begun by a small group of Catholic teachers  CONTINUES in  a radical ecumenical way.


We are a Good Friday People.
Centuries ago, a holy man invited a group of people on a journey.
That journey turned out to be both harrowing and life changing.
It ended in death, a violent death on a cross,
but also in the exciting realization that in the end
death is not God’s final answer to the human struggle
for meaning, hope and liberation.

The power that Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate thought they had over Jesus
turned out to be illusory.
The Passion Story unveils another kind of power at work in the world, and in the Word.
When Jesus said, “All power is given to me in heaven and on earth,”
he was not talking about domination and control
but about solidarity and liberation
At enormous cost, Jesus confronted the life-denying forces of his day and entered death,
showing us that our lives too can confront and overcome the forces of death in our day.

Jesus entrusted us with an amazing gift: the gift of knowledge
about what the real purpose of our lives is,
a purpose dramatically at odds with a world marked by violence, oppression and alienation for far too many.
He offered up his life with this message and challenges our souls through his example.
Conversion of our own lives and of the death-dealing power systems of our times is within our reach.

And so today as we walk, we journey together with Jesus,
enacting a hope that can be for all people,
a hope that had and still has the power to confront the myriad forces of death
and overcome them in all their forms,
moving beyond the brokenness of our world
toward abundant life for all.

All who share our vision are welcome.

Nick Rico now batting in a higher league

March 30, 2015


Every city has a Rico and we just lost ours.

Nick Rico was one of those guys you see in every major North American city, an old sandlotter who hung around long after his glory days to play it forward with the next generation of baseball nuts. I was just one of the many whose lives Nicky touched and it had hardly anything to do with baseball.
Two years ago a bunch of us got together to thank “the Reek” for his friendship. I lied to him and told him that a bunch of old ball players were getting together at the Canadiana, a west end banquet joint. He had no idea it was about him.That’s the kind of man Nick was. But I knew from our friendship that the shadows were lengthening for him and in Arthur Miller’s words, ”attention,attention must be paid to such a person.” We needed to thank Nick personally. and so the old players came out in droves to thank the lovely man.
Some were there whom Nick had tutored on their way to pro ball, others were there simply because Nicky was one of the nicest guys on the planet, man always ready to help, a guy who never took himself too seriously, who hated humbug of any type and whose values were rock solid.
There were a special few, people like myself Bobby Miwa, Joe Sawchuk who really knew the talent of Nick Rico.
When he had returned from his 5 years in pro ball, he naturally gravitated to the man who had impacted many of us, one of the first inductees into the Canadian baseball Hall of Fame, Carmen Bush. Known alternatively as “the Dictator”, “the Brain”, “the Baron of the Pits”, the “Sage of Bellwoods” Carm had given his life to kids in a ramshackle old club in little Italy near where the Rico family near Trinity-bellwoods Park. Nicky was just one of the many beneficiaries who lucked out when they played for Carmen and Columbus Boys Club.

Sister 2
Having a cat bird’s seat on Carm’s life I knew that he literally never made more than $10,000 a year and supplemented his meagre income by refereeing and umpiring. Hard to believe but the Knights of Columbus got Carm cheap. And 15 years after he had retired at a celebration of a 1944 Juvenile hockey team the Grand Knight showed up with some “guilt money” and ponied up another grand for their former employee. A man of tremendous integrity who turned down lucrative offers of his “gumbah” the Italian realtor Sam Sorbara to “stay with his little Wops” at the Club. So Nicky came home to Carm. Many of course came “home to Carm” including myself and young priest-to-be whom Carm introduce me to t in 1960,Tom McKIllop.
After 5 years chasing his baseball dream in towns like Bristol,Conn, Gastonia, Georgia, Mooresville, North Carolina, Lawton,Oklahoma, Ogden,Utah Nick landed back in his hometown ‘working the debit” in insurance and selling pasta for Primo. At this time we were playing for Carm and there was Nicky at the nightly post-mortems regaling us with his hilarious stories of life in the minors.
We would watch him playing third base and pitching for Clintons in the senior league while we were juveniles and juniors. We never saw anything like him.Yes he actually did bounce a ball off the clubhouse roof in straight centrefield about 450 feet from home plate. We never had seen a hitter like Nick. He would just laugh.”after pro ball, Ted it’s like hitting change ups all game long.’
Then he became our coach as we moved into senior ball but for years it was simply the bull sessions, the post mortems which remain. Our peerless leader Carmen Bush had set the festive board for all of us including “Niccolo” whom he loved as a son. Carm made us realize that the game is simply the place where we meet as fellow humans in relationship; that the post-mortem was just as important as the score board , that friendships crafted between foul lines were the really important things.
We never lost touch. Many of us stopped coaching but not Nicky. He would answer any call to help a young player including the Toronto born National League MVP Joey Votto. It turns out many of us unconsciously had taken Polonius advice in the Bard’s Hamlet
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

We could never let Nicky go.We knew where he hung out at High Seas Fish and Chips on Islington Ave. We came regularly to bask in the warmth of his smile.Nicky washed dishes there but just as often he was the maitre d’ of an old timers’ reunion. High Seas had become the terminus of a secular pilgrimage, an urban monastery where friendship was the raison d’etre. I remember bringing Fungo Joe Irvine and Tom McKillop out to see Nicky, friends who went back to the old Viaduct League of 1950—and McKillop had the pictures to prove it.

And then that night in December 2012 when we came to thank Nick.He had no idea that it was about him because it was never about him. In his extemporaneous remarks all he could talk about was his debt to Carmen.”Nobody he met in all of baseball could compare with him.’
A few days before he died we talked. Typical Nick.No complaints. Lotta weight loss and pretty weak, then the inevitable decline. Over the years we would often would talk about Carmen and how we missed him. Now, Nick has gone as well “to the higher league”, a true ikon of the Columbus Boys Club simple motto: “the other guy.”

Nick will be buried on Holy Thursday.Something appropriate about this.


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